Colours & emotions

Our minds are programmed to respond to colour. They shape our thoughts and emotions. According to studies, colour affects more than mood – it has the ability to change our buying habits. Colour can invoke as much as 80% change in motivation when it comes to online shopping, advertising and marketing campaigns.

While perceptions of colour are somewhat subjective, some colour effects have universal meaning.

Here are some examples of how different colours are perceived and logos that were designed to aggressively or subtly reach their market. Colour is one of the most powerful forms of non-verbal communication designers use. Colour offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and messages in logo design. It’s important for designers to use colour appropriately and understand the meaning behind the colours they choose.

Colour definition

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Yellow being the colour of sunshine, yellow puts a smile on the dial. It is the most visible colour from a distance (which is why it’s used for street signs) and communicates cheerfulness, friendliness, joy and energy. It can also be associated with mental clarity and intellect. Yellow is also associated with danger, though not as strongly as red.


Orange is blend of red and yellow and it’s a vibrant and energetic colour. In its muted forms it can be associated with the earth and with autumn. Because of its association with the changing seasons, orange can represent change and movement in general. Orange is also strongly associated with creativity, success, fun, balance, freedom and fascination.

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Red has a number of different contextual associations and in branding can deliver a highly visible punch. It has the ability to rev desire; and not surprisingly when it is the color of fire, danger, and blood on one hand; and love, sexuality and passion on the other. It is a bold, energetic and lively color that can symbolize strength, confidence and power.


Pale pink, often marketed as the official color of little girls, represents sweetness while dusty pink can be more sentimental and light pink more romantic. At the other end of the scale, hot pink indicates youthfulness, energy, fun and excitement. A soft pink is now often referred to as ‘millennial pink’, for the generation’s fondness for the blush tone. Soft pink interiors, graphics and more are particularly popular with Generation Y.

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Purple is a combination of red and blue and takes on some attributes of both. It’s associated with creativity and imagination, too. Dark purples are traditionally associated with wealth and royalty, while lighter purples (like lavender) are considered more romantic. In design, dark purples can give a sense wealth and luxury. Light purples are softer and are associated with spring and romance.


Blue is the most preferred colour, perhaps for its very versatile qualities. It is a favourite colour for companies that wish to convey reliability, trustworthiness, and communication. Light blues are often relaxed and calming. Bright blues can be energizing and refreshing. Dark blues, like navy, are excellent for corporate sites or designs where strength and reliability are important.

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Green represents life and renewal. It is a very down-to-earth colour. Alternatively, green can also represent envy or jealousy, and a lack of experience. Green has two very common meanings that are quite paradoxical; one being nature and the environment, and the other being finance and wealth. When it comes to nature, green represents plant life and growth and is consequently used to convey being ‘green’ in the environmental, sustainable, organic, natural sense of the word and stability.


Brown indicates nature woodiness and utility. It’s a completely natural color and a warm neutral. Brown can be associated with dependability and reliability, with steadfastness, and with earthiness, comfort, simplicity and quality. In design, brown is commonly used as a background colour. It’s also seen in wood textures and sometimes in stone textures. It helps bring a feeling of warmth and wholesomeness to designs. It’s sometimes used in its darkest forms as a replacement for black, either in backgrounds or typography.

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Grey is a balanced and neutral colour, generally considered on the cool end of the colour spectrum. But it is an emotionless, moody colour that is typically associated with meanings of dull, dirty, and dingy, as well as formal, conservative, and sophisticated. It can sometimes be considered moody or depressing. Light grey can be used in place of white in some designs, and dark grey can be used in place of black.


White represents simplicity, purity, innocence, and perfection. White contains an equal balance of all the colors of the spectrum, representing both the positive and negative aspects of all colors. Its basic feature is equality, implying fairness and impartiality, neutrality and independence. And if you had to identify one brand that has used white to convey its brand message to perfection it would have to be Apple – white represents the simplicity of the products in both their form and function. White also comes with a starkness or sterility about it, which is often used be designers to convey a minimalist aesthetic and clean, modern quality.

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The black colour is the absence of color. Black is a mysterious colour that is typically associated with the unknown or the negative. The colour black represents strength, seriousness, power, authority and elegance. Black is a formal, elegant, and prestigious color. Authoritative and powerful, the colour black can evoke strong emotions and too much black can be overwhelming. In heraldry, black is the symbol of grief. The colour black can be serious, professional, and conventional, but black can also represent the mysterious, sexy, and sophisticated. Black is a visually slimming color for clothing and like other dark colors, in interior design, black can make a room appear to shrink in size. The colour black affects the mind and body by helping to create an inconspicuous feeling, boosting confidence in appearance, increasing the sense of potential and possibility.